Football star Tim Tebow is known for wearing his faith on his sleeve.
He also wore it on his wrist on the cover of the September 2012 issue of GQ, thanks to one Cleveland Heights resident.
The quarterback sports a gray-and-black bracelet, created by Toni Garbo, that reads, “Thank You God. I am Grateful.”
She didn’t realize her wristband had made an appearance on the cover of the national men’s magazine at first. But she did notice that sales on her website, where she sells the bracelets for less than $2 each, increased.
“I got 10 orders in one day, and I thought, something’s going on, because I never get 10 orders in one day,” said Garbo, 47, managing editor at FOX 8.
She said she usually gets one order every three or four days. She searched online and found her bracelet on GQ.
“I screamed when I saw it."
But it’s not the first time the NFL player has been photographed with the band.
He wore it during a photo shoot with ESPN’s magazine in September 2010. And Cleveland Browns players wear them, too. Garbo pulled out newspaper clippings with photographs of Josh Cribbs and Mohamed Massaquoi with “Thank You God” around their wrists.
It’s not really a coincidence. She often gives them out for free, and sent them to the athletes.
“A lot of young people look up to these guys. And when there’s somebody like a Josh Cribbs or a Tim Tebow, I smile inside because I think, these guys can wear anything they want. They have the money and the fame and they’re choosing to wear a simple rubber wristband that says, ‘Thank you God, I am grateful,’” Garbo said.
Garbo came up with the idea to make the wristbands back in 2007 after watching a music awards show. She can’t remember which one, but she was moved by how musicians thanked God publicly, and wanted to do the same each day.
“I didn't have a national platform, but I wanted to show it in my own little way," Garbo said. "When I made them, I made them for myself, and I kind of don’t do anything small, so I made 1,000 of them."
On her site, she writes that the bracelet reminds her to reflect on the good moments and people in life.
"When I forget to be grateful, frustrations, stress, and the challenges of life take on a bigger role and block out the joy and peace that comes with gratefulness."
She passed the wristbands out to family, friends and coworkers.
And they were in demand. Her colleague’s son, who played for the Buckeyes, wanted one. And so did some of his teammates.
“At that point, when the Buckeyes wanted them, I developed my website, Thank You Bracelets, and started selling them,” Garbo said. She's estimates she's had 75,000 made.
But she contributes her own money to the business each year and hasn’t made a profit since 2008. She gives money in the name of the bands to Providence House and to the Cleveland Kids in Need organization.
“The goal isn’t to make money… it’s a ministry and it’s a business at the same time,” Garbo said, who was raised Catholic and said she's always been spiritual. “I wanted to be more grateful to God on a daily basis … It’s kind of like a string on your finger, something to remind yourself to be more thankful and grateful to God.”
Her eyes filled with tears when she talked about some of people who send her emails, thanking her for the bracelets. One man wrote her and said the wristband comforted him and his wife when she was in the hospital.
The woman displayed the rubber bracelet proudly to the hospital staff, and said, "Look at what my husband gave me."
When she passed away, he asked that she be buried wearing it.
"I get a lot of emails, but this one from a while back still hits me very hard," she said.
"I'm glad I have this little ministry."